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David Whitefoord Steward was born on 23 May 1945 in Nairobi, Kenya. He was educated in Canada; at St John’s School Leatherhead in the United Kingdom; and at the Universities of Stellenbosch and South Africa.
Mr Steward entered the South African Foreign Service in December 1966 and served in Canberra (1968 – 1971): Ottawa as Deputy Head of Mission (1976 – 1978) and at the United Nations in New York, as Deputy Permanent Representative (1978 – 1980) and Ambassador (1981-82). Between 1983 and 1985 he was responsible for negotiations on the independence of Namibia within the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Steward served as Head of the South African Communication Service from 1985 until 1992. During this period he was responsible for repositioning the SACS as a provider of central communication services to the Government and for transforming the organisation to run according to business principles. In August 1992 he was appointed as Chief Government Spokesman within the Office of the President. Soon afterwards, in November 1992 he was appointed as Director-General (Chief of Staff) in the Office of President FW de Klerk. He served in this capacity and as Secretary to the Cabinet until May 1994. From May 1994 until October 1996, he was the Head of Mr De Klerk’s office while the former President served as Executive Deputy President in the Government of National Unity.
Since his retirement from the public service, Mr Steward has continued to work closely with former President FW de Klerk. He has been his principal speechwriter since 1990 and co-authored his autobiography “The Last Trek, a New Beginning” (Macmillan, 1999). He and the former President established the FW de Klerk Foundation in June 1999 and its Centre for Constitutional Rights in 2006. He has served as the Foundation’s Executive Director since its establishment.
Mr Steward married Lanice Angela Fletcher on 8 July 1983. They have two children, Anthony and Camilla.